For those of you who love entwining your arms with someone when sipping sparkling wine, watching An Affair to Remember, or listening to Michael Bublé, here’s a Budapest sight for you: the Tree of Love Locks, also known as the Lovers Tree.
Found in Erzsébet Tér, which is adjacent to Deák Ferenc Tér in the fifth district (on the Pest side), this tree is surrounded by railings filled with locks. To show your lifelong commitment—this is not for the casual or rocky relationship—you and your partner buy a padlock, write your names and maybe even your anniversary date on it, and then add it to the Tree of Love Locks. (If you’re really devoted, you’ll have the lock engraved.)
Couples will put these locks elsewhere in Budapest and beyond. I’ve seen locks on railings at the Liberty Statue on Gellért Hill. During a recent trip to Eger (more on that in another post), I also saw love locks on a fence at the Cathedral.
Funzine, a publication about what to see and do in Budapest and other places in Hungary, provides some interesting urban legend background regarding love locks in Hungary and the Budapest tree. It suggests that we have graduating students to thank for the tradition before it shifted to devoted couples.
Hungary isn’t alone in this phenomenon. Love locks appear in cities around the world, including Cologne, Seoul, Tokyo, and Paris. You would think the city of love would support the locks, but a 2012 op-ed in the New York Times proposes many Parisians feel the opposite. C’est triste.
Some cities allow the locks to stay. However, some cities, such as Rome and Dublin, have taken the locks down out of concern for the extra weight on bridges or the unsightliness of the locks. Have you seen locks in your city or elsewhere? If so, are you a fan or do you think the locks are ugly?
For other romantic sights in Budapest, check out Top Budapest’s list of romantic attractions. But don’t worry, partners are optional to enjoy the sights.